Internet banking is increasingly becoming the norm when it comes to managing your finances. Many of us are happy to do the majority of our banking online and all the major banks now offer online banking services.
The main way that internet banking can help your finances is by allowing you to check and stay on top of your banking. In the past, we had to pore over our monthly statement to check our deposits and withdrawals. When telephone banking was introduced, you could check your balance and the last few transactions you made, while cash cards allowed you to do the same at an ATM.
With online banking you can access all areas of your account instantly. You can make payments, set up or change direct debits, review transactions and transfer funds between accounts. Just about the only thing you can’t do is deposit cash or cheques.
This easy access to your balance and transactions can be invaluable if you are making a household budget. You can easily track regular outgoings such as mortgage or rent payments and insurance premiums and, assuming you use a debit card or withdraw cash from your account, you can also see how much you spend on variable items like the weekly shop.
A word of warning: if you’re planning on accessing your finances from a public network, be sure to encrypt your connection to avoid having your information stolen and subsequently sold by a thief on the same network. To do this you can use a virtual private network service – check out and maybe even try the best free vpn for firefox to get started protecting yourself and your finances online.
Making a household budget can be an important step in keeping control of your personal finances and online banking can make it a lot easier. Don’t just put in your regular monthly outgoings though. Annual expenses, such as holidays and motoring costs should also be taken into account.
Most online banking services allow you to access previous statements, letting you get a more complete picture of your finances over a whole year or more.
There are also a growing number of internet-only banks, which have no branches on the high street. If you like the personal contact of going into your branch and seeing a human face, these might not be for you.
Many of us already do most of our banking online, so considering one of these might not be too huge a jump. Online banks may be able to offer better interest rates and more extensive online services, as they have smaller overheads. If you do have any queries or issues, you can usually contact the bank 24/7, either by email, by an online instant message facility or by phone.